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Hungry Girl,

What's the difference between balsamic vinegar and balsamic vinaigrette? Are they the same thing? I've heard that "balsamic" isn't fattening. HELP!!!

Befuddled by Balsamic
Dear Befuddled,

Glad you asked this. Many people are confused about the difference between balsamic vinegar and balsamic vinaigrette. They are two VERY different things. Straight-up balsamic vinegar typically has very few calories (10 - 20 a tablespoon) and no fat. It's a little intense but sweet and delicious, and a little goes a long way. Balsamic vinaigrette or dressing, on the other hand, often contains fat and a LOT more calories, since it's usually made with some type of oil and other high-calorie ingredients (like sugar, mayo, honey, etc.). Some balsamic dressings have reasonable calorie and fat counts, while others are super high in the stats department. Standard bottled balsamic dressings range from around 80 - 110 calories and 8 - 12g fat per 2-tbsp. serving, and the stats for restaurant versions can be even worse. So look for ones that are labeled "light," "low-fat," or "fat-free" -- and always check calorie counts when you're at the store. If you're dining out and that vinaigrette seems too creamy, thick, decadent, etc., to be very low in calories and fat, it probably isn't very low in calories and fat. Your best bet is to bring your own dressing (if you can) or stick with the basic balsamic vinegar (most places have it). Bottom line here is NOT to be fooled into thinking anything with "balsamic" in its name is automatically low in calories. Hope that clears things up!


I love to snack, but some snacks just don't leave me feeling full enough. What are your TOP ATE filling snacks to eat?

Still-Hungry Snackster
Dear Snackster,

I LOVE to snack as well. I'm glad you asked about which snacks are filling, because even I sometimes get sucked into eating snacks that taste good but aren't really great at filling me up. Eating a low-cal ice cream treat or a portion-controlled bag of chips is a GREAT way to kick a craving for something fattening -- but if I'm looking for something REALLY satisfying, there are other snacks I turn to. Here are my TOP ATE filling snack picks! Drumroll, please...

1. A large Fuji apple - Apples really fill me up, and Fujis are my favorite. A large one has about 120 calories, <0.5g fat, and 5g fiber (POINTS® value 2*).

2. Turkey and pickles - I like to roll up little pickles in lean turkey slices. I usually eat about 3 ounces of turkey and 3 smallish pickles. That snack has 100 calories or so, about a gram and a half of fat, and around 1g fiber (POINTS® value 2*). PROTEIN ROCKS!

3. Fiber One bran cereal (original) with Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze - Yum! And a 1/2 cup of the cereal with a 1/2 cup of that milk swap has only 80 calories, 2.5g fat, and a whopping 14.5g fiber (POINTS® value 1*).

4. Smoked salmon on high-fiber crackers - A couple of ounces of smoked salmon on two Wasa crackers (any variety with 35 calories or less and at least 1.5g fiber per piece) is incredible. Even if you add a smear of fat-free cream cheese and some chopped red onion to it, you can still keep it down to around 150 calories, 2.5g fat, and 3g fiber (POINTS® value 3*).

5. Any chocolate-flavored VitaTop - VitaTops are portable, delicious, and FILLING. And a chocolate-muffin treat that actually satisfies your appetite as well as your sweet tooth is a serious find. Almost all of the varieties have 100 calories, 1.5g fat, and at least 5g fiber each (POINTS® value of 1*). I like the HG-developed flavors the most -- especially the Triple Chocolate Chunk!

6. Celery sticks and baby carrots with Vivi's Original Sauce Classic Carnival Mustard - Some say these cut-up veggies are dull -- but slather 'em in some of Vivi's sauce, and they'll ROCK YOUR SOCKS! The spicy kick will help you feel full, too. You can eat a TON of the veggies (10 baby carrots and 20 celery sticks) with 3 tablespoons of Vivi's for about 90 calories, virtually no fat, and 3g fiber (POINTS® value 1*). Wow!

7. A Ruby Red grapefruit - Just peel and eat. Grapefruits are filling 'cuz they're HUGE. And a large one has about 60 calories, <0.5g fat, and 1.75g fiber (POINTS® value 1*).

8. A bag of House Foods Tofu Shirataki noodles with a wedge of The Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss cheese  - Rinse and dry the noodles VERY well, and then slice 'em up a bit. Melt the cheese by nuking it with the noodles for about a minute -- then stir well, and add a little salt and pepper if you like. Your cheesy noodle treat will be very filling and have just 75 calories, 3g fat, and 4g fiber (POINTS® value 1*). Fantastic!

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